Validate the loss
Infertility is the cause of much distress in couples. Research has shown it to be a causal factor for depression and anxiety disorders. Learning that you cannot have children does not only take away your chances of becoming a parent, but it also steals away dreams and expectations. It effectively nullifies the fantasies of future family trips, saturday night movies and afternoons at the beach with the children. The couple should give ear to this loss. Giving ourselves time to talk about the deep sadness that may exist within because of this grief, can help the couple connect and find one another in this moment of difficulty. Some couples may require the support of therapy in order to navigate the intense emotions that emerge in these circumstances.
It is also ideal to set the space for both members of the relationship to discuss the feelings that are important to the person. For instance, the person who has gotten to know they are infertile may need to talk about shame as well as grief, whilst the other person may need to address disappointment or anger. Every person will have different reactions, but having a judgement free, neutral and loving space to talk about these powerful emotions may help the couple move on to the next phase.
Adjust the dream
Having children can be a wonderful dream, but it is not the only dream. Couples who managed to move on can progress to discuss adjustments to the dream. There are plenty of options available for couples who are unable to conceive; and couples with infertility problems can seek consultation to see which future suits them best. Some couples may choose to opt for a future with no children, others may look into the possibility of IVF or adoption. Whatever the choice, it is important for the couple to go through the options together and use the same open space we discussed earlier to check in on the emotions that are expected to emerge.
A life that goes in an unexpected way may be shocking, but testimonials suggest that it could eventually become a rewarding journey nonetheless. It is the presence of love, acceptance and affection, together with a non judgmental and a non-derisive attitude that form a robust bedrock to support difficult conversations.
Claire Borg is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.